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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Teams take on the Martinsville short track this weekend (well, as long as the snow doesn’t come back – which they say it shouldn’t.) From this fan’s view, there seems to be sigh of relief for many simply because this track is more about driving and less about downforce and some of the other things that have been stressing the teams over the last several weeks. The last four weeks, in particular, have been a challenge for many because of the new rules, different tires and the new inspection processes they have all had to face.
It has been an interesting start to the season and this one at Martinsville could be considered a breath of fresh air as the Cup teams take on the old “paperclip” once again. The reason I say “breath of fresh air” is because it is more about the driver and his prowess in tight quarters and less about downforce and other things associated with the larger tracks.
Some of the things drivers and fans like about short tracks is the beating and banging along with the emotion that always surfaces after all of the bumping and banging. A driver will only take so much and, after that point is reached, payback often seems to be the rule of the day. Five hundred laps on a short track is a long time to run bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle, being nudged out of the way to get passed and all of the other short track moves that go on in tight spaces.
One of the hardest things for a driver to do on a short track, especially during a five hundred lap race, is to keep their cool. All of that competitive adrenaline and frustration builds up and surfaces after a period of time. It often erupts in an emotional response to someone’s driving style. (More often than not, that emotional response is called, temper.) It happens every time they hit the short tracks and there is always something going on to keep the fans interested in what is going between their driver and all the rest.
I won’t go into what happened between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin last fall but it does show what can happen on a short track when winning is a very real possibility late in a race. Of course, their run-in has been used to raise interest in the short track at Martinsville this weekend but it has really got very little to do with their incident last season and everything to do with how drivers race at a short rack. It can get pretty heated at times and that is always exciting for fans and drivers alike and leads to displays of emotion (and sometimes helmet throwing along with other things and visual displays of differing kinds) on the track and in the stands.
I can’t help but wonder if this could be the weekend that the Chevys break into the win column. So far, most of them haven’t shown the speed or handling it takes to run up front this year. Oh I know it is a new body style but this fan thinks it has been more because they haven’t figured out the one to two mile tracks yet where downforce plays a very important role. At Martinsville, downforce isn’t nearly as important and driver experience and patience is. I’m not willing to make any bold statements about them dominating this weekend but there is a good possibility they could make a good showing, at least better than they have recently.
Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and even some of the younger drivers could lead the way this weekend. Of the ones in the Hendrick camp, Jimmie Johnson would be a good choice if for no other reason than he has a number of victories at Martinsville already. Chase Elliott is hungry for his first win and almost won last time they ran at Martinsville. Kyle Larson has been strong most every weekend but just hasn’t managed to be there at the end of the day. From this fan’s view, there are a number of Chevys that could win, it is just a question of whether they do or not.
The SHR and Penske Fords have been running strong so far this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them ended the day in Victory Lane. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Bush come to mind very quickly and one of them could be taking home the Clock when it is all over, but, I think the Toyotas will have something to say about that.
Kyle Bush always seems to run strong at Martinsville no matter what series he runs in. After a dominating performance at Fontana last weekend, Martin Truex Jr. has to at least be considered as a contender. Denny Hamlin is another Toyota driver that always seems to be near the front when the laps are winding down and the final checkered flag is about to fall.
Now I am by no means limiting the choices of who may win because there are so many possibilities from all of the three makes of cars. Personally, I would really like to see either Jimmie Johnson or Chase Elliott take home a clock but considering Chevy performance so far this season, I’m just not convinced yet. One thing I know for certain. This should be a really exciting race and I do expect to see a few displays of temper by the time it comes down to dropping that final checkered flag to end the day. Just how intense those displays are and how close the racing is are just two of the reasons I’ll be watching this one…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 24, 2018 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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